COVID-19 News & Views

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SME confidence rising despite concerns about closed borders

Updates to this research will be published weekly to track the impact and response to COVID-19. Week 14 results are now available.

The latest wave of the COVID-19 SME Weekly Research Tracker published by ACA Research and TEG Insights reports that overall sentiment amongst the SME sector is much stronger this week, with 34% of businesses now reporting revenues at pre-COVID-19 levels, compared to 27%, two weeks earlier. Stronger revenues were reported by construction, production and particularly the retail sector.

The proportion of businesses expecting revenues to return to pre-COVID levels by October is also rising with an increase of 8% over the past two weeks, to 53%. It is very important these numbers continue to improve as we move closer to the stimulus cliff at the end of September.

Table 1: Revenue Returning to Pre-COVID Levels

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The COVID-19 SME Weekly Tracker is conducted by leading business market research firm ACA Research in partnership with TEG Insights and tracks the impact of COVID-19 across more than 300 small and medium enterprises each week.

The higher level of confidence reported this week, has also translated to much lower levels of concern regarding business survival. 57% reported concerns compared to 70% only two weeks earlier. This is the lowest level reported since the inception of the research in early April.

Table 2: Level of Concern about Business Survival

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Despite this positive data, many SMEs are very concerned about travel restrictions and supply chain issues. Clearly State borders need to open quickly if SMEs are to recover before the stimulus measures are wound back. In fact, more than 50% of decision makers are already comfortable with interstate travel for their employees when State borders do reopen.

Table 3: Business Challenges

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Interestingly, concern about health and wellbeing is at its highest since the end of April, indicating the level of stress may peak during the recovery process as decision makers attempt to revive their businesses.

Table 4: Level of Concern about Personal Wellbeing

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The SME sector is showing strong signs of recovery with both short and medium term revenue projections increasing. However, if stimulus measures are to be wound back in October, it is very important to reverse other restrictions as quickly as possible. Clearly the impact of closed State borders is hurting the recovery and hence affirmative action by State Premiers is critical if we want to avoid substantial job losses and business closures at the end of 2020 and beyond.

Please click on this link to access the full report including subgroup analysis by industry sector, size of business and State. ACA Research and TEG Insights will publish weekly updates of this research to track the impact and response to COVID-19. Hopefully the results will become more positive as we work through this crisis together.

Topics: Market Research Healthcare Research Thought Leadership Research COVID-19 SME Tracker